TENNIS ROLAND GARROS 2014 – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pre-tournament interview.
Q. Can you just describe your season so far, how you feel about it.
JO WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah, I can describe it. It was not that good. Usually I start better in my year, but, you know, it’s tennis. I had many problems last year on the second half of the season with my knees and it was not easy to deal with it, so I lost a bit of time with that.
And then to come back and find your best level is never it’s never easy. So it was a tough start, but, you know, I still believe I can play good tennis. During all these months I worked pretty hard. So I think I’m ready, anyway, now to play.
Q. How far from your, you know, consistently good level do you think you are?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA: I don’t know yet, to be honest, because I didn’t play enough matches to be sure. But anyway, I know, like I said just before, I know I worked hard, and, you know, I can’t do more than this.
Q. Do you think that then the pressure is off you coming into Roland Garros? You have had good results here because of your season so far. Do you think you’ll be a lot calmer not expecting as much as perhaps when you’ve been doing very, very well?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA: Not really, because anyway, you know, I expect a lot from me, especially here. I know it’s always a lot of pressure, but I think now I have enough experience. I played a few times Roland Garros. I know how is it.
I always play my best tennis here, so I hope I will continue on this way and play good tennis.
Q. There are lots of Frenchmen, French players in the draw doing well.
JO WILFRIED TSONGA: As always.
Q. Perhaps too many (smiling). Does that take the pressure off? What does that show about French tennis?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA: It show we have a good it shows that the Federation did a great job with the young guys. Now we don’t have, you know, a top player, I mean, in the top 5 since a couple of years now, so we need to improve on this.
But anyway, it shows that the French tennis is in good shape.
Q. You have been one of the players who we say in English has been knocking on the door of, you know, the top 5, 4, against the guys that are winning most of the majors. Do you feel now that because of Wawrinka that that door is a little bit more open, or is it still the same door is there?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA: You know, I always even before Stan, you know, I always tried to keep the door open (smiling). You know, since I’m playing tennis, you know, I dream about the best results, the best tournaments, and I will continue. That’s how I will give my best on the court.
So I think it’s my philosophy, and I will never think it’s impossible to do it.
Q. Do you feel that Rafa is more vulnerable this year on clay, or is it crazy to think that in best of five sets?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA: If we have to look at the results these last couple of weeks, of course we can say that. But when we look, you know, in the past, there is no reason to say Rafa is different than the other years.
You know, he’s still the same guy, the same champion, and I’m sure he wants to win again here in Roland Garros.
Q. How do you feel physically, before anything else, and also mentally before this very special tournament for you? How did you feel when you practiced here?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA: I feel pretty good, but you should never rely on what is happening during practice, because only matches will show what you are worth.
So today, yes, I feel good. I feel good physically. I have no problems. I’m very happy to be here.
So for the time being all the green lights are on, and I hope I’m going to have a good tournament in this French Open.
Q. It’s never easy to play against a French player, and even less in this tournament. You’re going to play a French player you know well, but it’s also a way of getting into the tournament fast.
JO WILFRIED TSONGA: Well, whatever, French or not, you rarely get into the tournament first round already. I will try my best on the court. Every time you step on to the court you’re just beyond the door and you know it’s going to be a new experience. Each time it is over it is always a new satisfaction.
With Edouard, we played several times against each other. I have the feeling that whatever happens, I always play Edouard the first round here. I don’t know why.
So it’s not funny, but…
It’s not funny for me, but I think it’s not funny for him, either.
So we’re going to play, and the best one will go to second round. Same thing as against a final.
Q. Apparently you’re fit, but maybe you have some issues with confidence. Do you believe it’s going to come back?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA: Well, I have a way of doing things. I’ve did things in my career, I met some goals that seemed maybe far away, and so at this stage of my career, what I’m doing is saying I want to be the best. I want to be best. I want to do things better.
And of course because of that I’m trying to change some things. And I did change many things, in fact, hoping that it’s going to be better.
But I also know it might take time, and you have to work a lot on these things. So long term work is important, too, because as soon as I try something new, if it doesn’t work out right, if I try to do something else, every time I change I’ll never make progress.
So what I’m doing is just choosing something I want to improve and work on it and do it as much as I can, knowing it might take some time before it is efficient.
Of course if after a whole year it’s still not working, well, then, maybe I’ll think about it and maybe change. But for the time being, the goal well, I’m talking about one year. It can be two years or three years. Depends on how strongly I believe in my project.
But anyway, it’s my project. What people say about me doesn’t matter. The important thing is when it is my project, I want to ‘m the one who wants to win the big tournaments.
Q. So you might play Djoko in the round of 16. Is it better than in the semis?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA: Well, to win a tournament like this you have to beat them all anyway. Whether I’m playing first round or playing the final or maybe for the French Open for the crowd it’s different, but for me it doesn’t change anything.
I already played round of 16 matches and finals and semifinals. So as I said before, I always want to go further, and that’s what is interesting to me. I don’t want to repeat things and do the same things. I want to do things better.
One day if I believe I cannot make any more progress, I’ll be sitting here in front of you saying, Don’t count on me anymore. I’ll tell you I know I can’t do more.
But if I still am trying, it means I believe I can.
Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?
Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?
In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.
In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.
Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.
“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.
These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.
“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.
Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.
This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.
Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career
Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.
Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.
Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.
Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.
“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.
Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.
“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.
David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati
David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.
Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.
The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.
Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open 2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.
Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.
“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”
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